MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) — Getting kicked out for coming out is still a reality for youths who identify as LGBTQ.
It’s not something Stephanie Lowe necessarily experienced herself because she came out closer to 30, but she’s been able to see the problem first hand when she and her wife were thinking about adopting.
Lowe saying, “There were LGBTQ+ youth in the system and a lot of the foster homes in the area were not interested in taking those children, which was really an eye opener for us. We did not know that was even an option to say who you would or would not accept into your home.”
That’s when Lowe started making it her main mission to open the first LGBTQ specific group home in the state of Tennessee.
“Youth can not heal themselves until they can be themselves and we know that kids come into the foster system, and they’ve had traumas or things that have happened. So we want them to know that they have a place where they’re loved and accepted as exactly who they are.”
True You Tennessee also plans to do outreach for LGBTQ youth who don’t want to go into the system as well as eventually create a transitional home for youth outgrowing the foster care system. True You plans to be licensed by the state but haven’t started that process yet. They don’t plan to be contracted by them though so there’s no guaranteed funding.
“We want to be self funded. We just want to be sure that we’re providing a place that youth don’t have to worry about that,” says Lowe. She goes on to say the non-profit just got their 501c3 classification a few weeks ago, started renting office space, and are working on their first fundraiser. A home hasn’t been found yet but they’d like to be licensed for up to 8 youth. “We’re at a place where fundraising is going to dictate when we’re able to get a home.”
The current plan calls for the home to be in Murfreesboro. Lowe says that’s because Nashville already has great resources, “a lot of our kids in the rural counties have zero resources so that was one of the things that I was looking at.” She also points to the schools in Rutherford County.
“We want kids to know that there are people who support them even if it’s not the people who support you at the time. There are people out there that love and support them.”
A study from True Colors United shows 40% of youth experiencing homeless identify as LGBTQ even though only 7% of the general youth population in the US identify as LGBTQ.
Lowe hopes a place like True You can help with the homeless statistics. “We’re not looking to just be there as a, ‘this is where you’re going to come live until you turn 18 and then best of luck.’ We want to be that family from the time that they come into our care throughout their lives.”